Now that the end of the fall semester is here, you may have free time during the winter break to spend with family and friends, celebrate the holidays and catch-up on your Netflix shows. This is an exciting time for those who have a heavy workload during the semester, but the winter break is also a perfect time to start looking ahead at that summer internship so you can build up your resume and professional development experience. Below are some tips to get the most out of your winter break while also being productive in your career goals:
1. Create & Update your Resume
With the time-off between semesters, you have a full month to relax and enjoy the time away from campus. While it is important to take time to recuperate this winter break, consider updating your resume in the meantime. Did you complete a recent internship, co-op, or relevant work experience this past semester? Take the time to add it to a current resume or start to build the foundations of a new resume. Reflect on your past experiences and the job description. Include action verbs that demonstrate the skills employers are looking for in a potential candidate. By utilizing your spare time over the winter break to enhance your resume, you are taking a huge step towards reaching your future career goals.
2. Utilize Handshake
Handshake is a great tool to utilize over winter break, as it has everything you may need to kick start your professional development. If you are still unsure how to use Handshake, contact the O’Brien Center for Career Development to learn more. This website has everything necessary to curate your internship experience, stay in contact with your career advisor, learn about upcoming events on campus and find resources. Take the time this winter break to update your Handshake profile and browse the current spring and summer internship opportunities that you may miss out on otherwise! And if you had a previous, fall internship, be sure to register it in Handshake as well.
3. Make an Appointment with your Career Advisor
New year, new you? Then what better way to kickoff 2019 than an appointment with your career advisor? To do so, log-on to your Handshake account and select the “Career Center” drop down tab. Then select “schedule new appointment”. The best thing about coordinating with your career advisor through Handshake is that you can schedule an appointment based on your needs. Whether that’s updating a resume and cover letter to make it even stronger, getting tips on how to best network, or prepping and searching for internships, jobs, or graduate school. We recommend that after scheduling an appointment, come in prepared with a working resume or cover letter, target industries for employment or a game plan for your career development. This way your career advisor is better able to assist you during your appointment and provide insight into your professional goals.
4. Increase your Network
Being aware of upcoming networking events next semester is a great way to gain skills and connections among your peers and greater Merrimack network. There are more than 10 upcoming events planned for next semester to network with alumni and employers in the field of your choice. Whether you’re interested in attending the Marketing Networking Lunch, the Spring Career Fair, or even the Professional Development Retreat, there are many opportunities to enhance your networking skills (and maybe land an internship!) You can register for any and all events through your Handshake account. Going to events that not only pertain to your major or school but also those that you are interested in and want to learn more about help develop your professional capabilities. You can even work on your networking skills this winter break by connecting with family members over the holidays! Making connections can be as simple as talking to family at a holiday party about what they do for work. Don’t be afraid to reach out to an alumni from Merrimack at a company you are really interested in learning more about. Conduct an informational interview!
5. Tailor Interview Skills
Practicing your interview skills is simple and creates a huge difference when you finally score an interview. Doing a quick Google search for improving interview skills will bring you to a multitude of websites such as Monster and Indeed, both of which give you a comprehensive list of skills to improve upon. The O’Brien Center for Career Development website also includes a resource known as Quinncia. This technology will prepare students for interviews by conducting mock interviews and measuring your preparedness based on nonverbal communication, filler words, and rate of speech. All of these tips and more can be practiced to ensure a better chance of landing the position you are looking for.
Using the above tips are a great way to work on your professional development while reflecting on your career goals during the winter break. All of these take a few minutes out of your day, but together are a great way to make yourself stand out in the professional world.